DETROIT – Hours following an encounter with an opposing player’s teeth, Brendan Smith needed surgery to clean out an infected hand a week ago.
Last Tuesday in Columbus, Smith fought with Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno midway through the third period.
While both received five-minute major penalties, Smith ended up with a few teeth marks above the knuckles on his left hand.
“I hit Foligno in the mouth and apparently there's a lot of bacteria in the mouth so I ended up getting infected that way,” said Smith, who returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since the injury. “It was just a fluke incident like that. Sometimes it can get cut open. A lot of times nothing will happen but it was just unlucky that time.”
By the next morning, so much swelling had set in that Smith couldn’t get the hand into his glove.
“It was pretty bad,” he said. “I was a little worried. That's why I told (the trainers). They were like, we're not 100 percent sure, let's tell the docs. The docs were like, yeah, that's infected so we have to do something about it.”
Smith had surgery last Wednesday and has been on antibiotics ever since. He is eligible to come off seven-day injured reserve Wednesday, though he’ll likely miss the team’s annual Thanksgiving Eve game when the Wings host Philadelphia at Joe Louis Arena.
Injuries never come at convenient times, but for Smith, this one came at the most inopportune moment, occurring in his fourth career multi-assist game.
“I've been playing pretty well and all of a sudden it's a fluke incident like that gets me hurt,” Smith said. “It could be a lot worse. If we didn't catch it and I played another game and got more stuff from my glove, it could have been a lot worse. I could have been out for a month. You can look at it as a blessing in disguise that our docs figured it out quick.”
The likelihood of contracting an infection like Smith did is minimal and wouldn’t cause him to second guess himself the next time he’s challenged to a fight.
“You can't really, it's so split-second kind of thing but I think at the end of the day, you just play the game hard,” Smith said. “If something happens, you answer the bell. Obviously you want to be aware of what you're doing, you want to make sure you're not gonna get yourself hurt. You make sure that you're not at the end of your shift when you're tired so there's a chance you'll get hurt. These are all things that you've gotta take into effect. It's never going to stop me from being physical or anything.”
Mike Babcock doesn’t expect Smith to be ready for Wednesday, but as the Wings’ coach likes to say, “It’s an opportunity for others.”
|Coach Mike Babcock put this sign behind the Red Wings' bench Monday in support of his former mentor Bryan Murray. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings) |
FIGHTING FOR BRYAN: During the first TV timeout Monday at JLA, the Red Wings showed their support with a video message on the Jumbotron for Ottawa general manager Bryan Murray, who is fighting Stage 4 colon cancer. A Hockey Fights Cancer placard that read “I fight for Bryan” was taped to the wall behind Babcock on the Red Wings’ bench during the game.
The Wings’ coaches also wore lavender ties Monday. Lavender is the color that symbolizes awareness for all cancers.
Murray, 71, was coach and GM for the Red Wings from 1990 to 1993. He surrendered his coaching duties to Scotty Bowman the following season, but remained GM for one more season in Detroit.
“Bryan Murray gave me my first opportunity in the National Hockey League,” Babcock said. “I worked with Bryan when I was in Cincinnati and he gave me a chance to coach in the NHL for him in Anaheim. We’re good friends. I have a ton of respect for Bryan. He’s a good hockey man. He’s been in the business forever. He’s a lifer. He’s had a lot of success. Obviously, no one wanted Bryan to get cancer. But part of his notoriety and cancer is maybe there can be a difference made as he brings awareness. We’re aware and in total support and we’re hoping with what’s available medically today that he can battle his way through.”
Center - DET
Goals: 4 | Assists: 6 | Pts: 10
Shots: 39 | +/-: 5
Center Riley Sheahan
scored his second power-play goal of the season Monday night, giving him three goals and five points in his past five games.
“Obviously, (he’s) playing with more pace,” Babcock said. “It’s like anything, the better you play, the more ice time you get, the more rhythm you get, the better you feel you’re playing.”
Sheahan has been centering Detroit’s second line, which on Monday consisted of forwards Tomas Tatar and veteran Johan Franzen. For Tatar, who earned an assist on Sheahan’s second-period goal Monday, he has been absolutely dynamite lately, stretching his point streak to six straight games with five goals and eight points.
DATSYUK UPDATE: Pavel Datsyuk
Center - DET
Goals: 5 | Assists: 6 | Pts: 11
Shots: 25 | +/-: -1
practiced for the second straight day with the team, but did not indicate when he might return to the lineup. The Wings’ star center has missed six of the past eight games with a sore groin.
In hindsight, Datsyuk thinks he came back too soon from the initial injury. He played two games and was back out of the lineup after the home loss to Montreal Nov. 16.
“It’s kind of difficult,” said Datsyuk, who has five goals and 11 points in 10 games. “What happened first time, looked like I was ready, but jumped in too early.”